ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This story is a sequel to "Love Is for Children," "Eggshells," "Dolls and Guys," "Saudades," "Turnabout Is Fair Play," and "Touching Moments," and "Splash."

Fandom: The Avengers
Characters: Phil Coulson, Bruce Banner, Hulk.
Medium: Fiction
Warnings: Inferences of past child/domestic abuse. Current environment is safe.
Summary: Phil shows Bruce the cute pictures of the team helping Hulk clean up after the bilgesnipe fight. Bruce finds the whole idea more confusing than pleasing.
Notes: Multiplicity/Plurality. Teamwork. Friendship. Flangst. Hurt/comfort. Dysfunctional relationship dynamics. Trust issues. Safety and security. ALL THE FEELS. Non-sexual touching and intimacy. Personal growth. Family of choice.

If you've been reading this series for the ageplay, well, that was the previous story. This one takes a deeper psychological approach, exploring how Bruce responds to the actions of Hulk and the team in "Splash."

A note on feedback: While it's not necessary to comment on every post I make, remember that I don't know who reads/likes things if nobody says anything. Particularly on long stories, I've discovered that I get antsy if there's nothing but crickets chirping for several posts. So it helps to give me feedback at least once, even if it's just "I like this" or "This one doesn't grab me."

Anonymous commenters: You don't have to specify exactly who you are, but it helps to have a first name or a username from some other service, so I have some idea of who's saying which and how many different "Anonymous" folks there are.

Skip to Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12Part 13Part 14.
The sequel is "Birthday Girl."


"Coming Around" Part 1


Phil sat beside Bruce's bed, watching him sleep. Bruce always seemed so small when he transformed back into his everyday self, after the boisterous mass of the Hulk. Seeing him in this soft and vulnerable state brought out the protective side of Phil. He made sure that Bruce was never alone once he passed out after a battle. If Phil couldn't keep watch himself, then he posted Steve or another Avenger instead.

Phil kept a close eye on the small screen of his Starkphone. JARVIS tracked Bruce's vital signs while he slept. The silent display informed Phil of any problems, and let him estimate when Bruce came close to waking. The numbers shifted, quickening by increments.

Bruce stirred in the soft nest of blankets. One bare arm crept out. Phil caught his hand, rubbing a thumb over the scatter of small scars. Some of them clearly came from lab accidents: short dashes left by glass chips, craters from caustic splashes. The longer lines across the palm looked different, though, earlier and more faded. One of them bisected the life line. A puckered mark halfway up the forearm suggested a compound fracture.

Defensive wounds, Phil thought, analyzing the pattern automatically. He had read what existed of Bruce's records, but that only covered things that someone had noticed and reported at the time. The brutal murder of Bruce's mother was a matter of record. What had lain hidden, however, left no mark except for the ones under Phil's fingertips. Phil inferred far more about Bruce's past than mere paperwork contained, a dark story hinted in hunched shoulders and downcast eyes, diffident speech and dogged determination to be of use. Phil traced the old, silvery scars with a delicate touch.

Bruce woke, then, and pushed himself up on his elbows. "Why do I remember everyone standing around the Other Guy with towels?" he asked with a quizzical frown.

Phil's eyebrows went up. "That's what you remember from the battle?" he asked. It was certainly a better opening than Bruce's usual Did I hurt anyone? "We fought some bilgesnipe. Hulk needed a bath, so we gave him one."

"I think ... they sprayed something, smelled like mercaptans? I've got that in my head, but no clear memory of fighting. Most of it's just a blur," Bruce said. He sat up and rubbed his head.

"Headache?" Phil asked.

"Oddly enough, no," said Bruce. "Most of the time I wake up feeling like crap, after an incident. This time, I'm just kind of tired and I feel like my head's stuffed with cotton. Hard to think, but it doesn't hurt as much."

"So that's an improvement," Phil observed. "Good. I believe Hulk was trying to be gentle with you. He'll be pleased to know that it worked." Thanks, big guy, we owe you one, Phil thought.

"Hulk isn't gentle," Bruce said instantly. He noticed that Phil was still holding his hand, and tugged it loose. Phil let him go.

* * *

Notes:

Defensive wounds
most often appear on the hands or forearms, and indicate a victim resisting an attack.

Both Bruce and his mother were abused by Brian Banner, and that background plays into the formation of the Hulk.  I customarily write Hulk as existing before the lab accident, which simply gave him a form of his own.

Even with limited evidence, Phil can extrapolate much of Bruce's dark past because Bruce displays many symptoms of abuse survivors.  Read the list and see how much of that actually appears in canon.

Bruce's damage manifests primarily as anxiety, especially after an incident.  There are ways to reduce anxiety.

Mercaptans are odiferous chemicals such as those produced by skunks. Scent and memory are tightly linked.

Bruce-and-Hulk have serious problems sharing memory, hence the gaps.  Hulk is trying to fix that, and this is the first significant result of that effort.  They also have problems switching.  They're both working on that, but not in concert, so progress is erratic.


[To be continued in Part 2 ...]

You have a true gift

Date: 2013-04-09 06:05 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
First and foremost, thank you for writing these awesome stories! I've followed along since Love is For Children and I have never been more in love with how everything in a story comes together. I've loved every sequel so far and I don't expect this one to be an exception.

Sorry, didn't finish lol

Date: 2013-04-09 06:07 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Second, I really hope that Bruce can learn to accept the Hulk like Hulk accepts Bruce and the rest of the team :)

(no subject)

Date: 2013-04-09 06:57 am (UTC)
finch: (Default)
From: [personal profile] finch
I'm looking forward to seeing how Bruce reacts to the actions of the previous story. I really enjoyed Hulk's POV in the previous one.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-04-09 10:52 am (UTC)
gingicat: drawing of me based on wedding photo (Default)
From: [personal profile] gingicat
Poor Bruce. "Hulk isn't gentle." Such a world of hurt in that. And possibly jealousy? "That's my place, not his!"

Also, I approve of Steve being first in line after Phil to supervise waking.

Jealousy

Date: 2013-04-09 03:20 pm (UTC)
ext_1575623: (Default)
From: [identity profile] draggon_flye.livejournal.com
Ohhhh.... I hadn't thought of it like that before, that Bruce might be jealous or defensive about Hulk filling 'his' place. Interesting.

Re: Yes...

Date: 2013-04-10 10:36 am (UTC)
gingicat: drawing of me based on wedding photo (Default)
From: [personal profile] gingicat
I say "poor Bruce" because it's going to be a lot harder for him to heal. Hulk is an actual child; Bruce can only handle being a certain age, and started out hiding in terror on game nights.

If this were a TV show, I'd need to be cuddled while watching this episode.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-04-09 12:59 pm (UTC)
rivulet027: (Default)
From: [personal profile] rivulet027
Poor Bruce. So glad that Hulk managed to get some of the good memories to him, but sad that it seems Bruce is going to be slow in realizing that Hulk is trying to take care of him. It's nice to see Phil's outside perspective in this, which goes along well with the teams reactions to Hulk in the last story. Sometimes it takes an outside perspective to realize things about ourselves so hopefully they can help Bruce and he won't be too resistent.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-04-09 03:21 pm (UTC)
aldersprig: (Aldersprig Leaves Raining)
From: [personal profile] aldersprig
In-teresting. Can't wait to see what happens when Bruce sees the vids of bathtime.

Bruce

Date: 2013-04-09 03:23 pm (UTC)
ext_1575623: (Default)
From: [identity profile] draggon_flye.livejournal.com
"Hulk isn't gentle," Bruce said instantly.

Ok, maybe I'm just weird, but I swear that sounds like a petulant toddler voice in my head.

Re: Bruce

Date: 2013-04-10 02:53 am (UTC)
ext_1575623: (Default)
From: [identity profile] draggon_flye.livejournal.com
Hulk isn't the only one who can get stuck at an earlier stage of development. Remember the gender-role scene in "Dolls and Guys" ...?


Oh I caught that.... The tone was just so strong in my head.

By the way, these characters have officially invaded my brain. I've found myself thinking up ideas for fanfic of this fanfic.

Re: Bruce

Date: 2013-04-12 04:24 am (UTC)
thnidu: my familiar. "Beanie Baby" -type dragon, red with white wings (Default)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
(big grin)

(no subject)

Date: 2013-04-09 07:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] antivol.livejournal.com
I think the more Bruce tries to separate himself from Hulk, the less control he has on himself and the transformation. Such a fascinating character, to have his shadow self manifesting as a real, separate persona! (and poor Bruce, that's hard, the rest of us at least get to hide and lie about it...)
New story, yay!

(no subject)

Date: 2013-04-09 08:56 pm (UTC)
pinkhairedharry: (Default)
From: [personal profile] pinkhairedharry
Bruce baby, I know it's going to be hard but you need to understand that Hulk really just wants to protect you and the team.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-04-10 01:54 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I love this series :) I came into it at the end of eggshells and have thoroughly enjoyed it. You're amazing

(no subject)

Date: 2013-04-13 04:49 am (UTC)
thnidu: my familiar. "Beanie Baby" -type dragon, red with white wings (Default)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
I remember a book of my mother's that I found fascinating when I was a teen: The Subtle Sense, about the sense of smell. Thanks for reminding me of it.

Re: You're welcome!

Date: 2013-04-13 04:18 pm (UTC)
thnidu: my familiar. "Beanie Baby" -type dragon, red with white wings (Default)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
I know about muscle memory. The balance-and-turn, spins, shifts, and so on that I learned as a teen doing world folk dances have been part of my life ever since, and I still remember many of the dances and steps.

Very right about Hulk. Well, sight and hearing too, but not for language. To catch someone safely at terminal velocity, you'd BETTER be using sight very well!

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ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
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